MBA football in turmoil over financial aid to student-athlete

Friday, April 15, 2011 at 8:29am

Yes, we have the Tennessee Titans, but high school football is still the heart of Middle Tennessee sports. In that world, perennial powerhouse Montgomery Bell Academy is the focus of much of the conversation. In the past week though, the conversation has turned to a topic the school would rather do without.

A controversy over financial aid to a student's family is brewing at the program, which is regularly ranked as one of the best in the country. While boosters and school officals have remained tight-lipped, the tenure of head coach Daniel McGugin is uncertain.

Calls to MBA administrators have gone unanswered, but an investigation has uncovered the following: In 2008, an underclassman student and football player was admitted to MBA with the help of need-based financial aid. Shortly after his admission, the father of the student told other parents his wife had been recently laid off from her employment and the family was facing financial difficulty.

After hearing the story, parents of other MBA athletes took up a collection to assist the family through its hardship. The money was raised privately and not in connection whith the school or the athletic program. The controversy apparently erupted several weeks ago when, after the student was not assured a starting position on the football team, his parents disclosed the financial assistance to MBA headmaster Bradford Gioia.

Gioia, who has reported the matter as a possible rules violation to the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association, has not responded to calls on the matter.

When contacted, MBA head football coach Daniel McGugin stated, "I am proud to be the coach of MBA football and associated with this institution. I have done nothing that has been deemed immoral or unethical by the TSSAA, the MBA Board of Trust, or the headmaster of this school. I look forward to the the 2011 MBA football season."

Pressed for details, McGugin said that, while he is now aware of the financial assistance to the family of the student, he did not know of it when it occurred.

A meeting was held last night to discuss the future of the football program. Details from that gathering are not yet known, but it appears McGugin has survived the controversy — so far.


UPDATED at 8:30 a.m. to correct details of student's admission to MBA. 


14 Comments on this post:

By: jsnap on 4/15/11 at 7:41

What is all the commotion about? I see this as the right thing to do under the circumstances. Now however, when the student is not making the team is when the parents object. Grow up parents and move on.

By: Oy Vey on 4/15/11 at 7:45

Wow, hope they don't get assaulted over this French Toast of a situation

By: Red Rules on 4/15/11 at 8:14

at best perhaps 30% of this is true, the rest is pure "spin" to minimize what is going down on the hill. Based on what is posted on other sites, the coach is speaking out of both sides of his mouth! should be an interesting Friday.

By: tcross on 4/15/11 at 9:07

Terrible article. Mr. Whitehouse should write for TMZ. To infer that McGuigan had anything to do with payments is ridiculous. This thing was made to sound like he is on the verge of being fired which is not at all the case. If anyone should be fired, it is you, Mr. Whitehouse.

By: cus52 on 4/15/11 at 9:42

Since financial aid for athletes in Division 2 is legal (that is why they are in Division 2), what is the big deal? The assistance provided by parents was for the mom and dad, not apparently for tuition. Don't understand why TSSAA would call it a rules violation.....of course it is the TSSAA.....
As for his parents who "disclosed the financial assistance" when the kid wasn't assured a starting position, welcome to the real world. Did you expect that because you got need based financial aid that you are entitled? I feel bad for the kid.

By: richgoose on 4/15/11 at 9:59

I certainly can see that a TSSAA rule has been compromised. What I do not understand is why McGugin is considered part of the violation. (Unless of course the parents have implicated him in some way) The MBA people do not understand the culture of scorned underclass people. They can be a vicious lot. Many times they bite the hand of those who feed them.

By: Pecos2010 on 4/15/11 at 11:17

Wow, richgoose. I really hope you are being sarcastic and don't really feel this way. There are many fine families that are on financial aid and many of their children are future leaders. I can't believe you just referred to them as the underclass. That type of comment is why some people hate MBA. The family to which you are casting aspersions is a great family and he is a great kid. Their side of the story will come out, I'm sure.

By: RTungsten on 4/15/11 at 11:26

Based on the actions of these parents after they were given money, I can't imagine why anyone would lay off such a caring soul from their company. I hope their child has better morals than the parents.

By: Leazee on 4/15/11 at 11:34

There doesn't seem to be too much here. So why is it that the Board was huddled last weekend for damage control? Nobody spins it better than MBA and their masses follow suit. This will go away quickly. The media worships the school, the investigations will be minimal and MBA will not even remember or acknowledge that it ever happened. It would not be surprising if Ricky Bowers is not being blamed for this in some way. At MBA, it is never their flaw or fault. The "gentleman, scholar, athlete" myth lives on!

By: richgoose on 4/15/11 at 11:36

Pecos2010.......I stand by my statements about the underclass. If this article is true(and I do not know that it is) then I my experience indicates you are wrong about your opinion. If there is another story I will make a revision about this PARTICULAR situation but not about the underclass as whole

By: Pecos2010 on 4/15/11 at 4:09

Richgoose, there is more to the story about this particular family and it will come out in due time. However, if this situation was just about them, it would have been over by now. There is a deep divide regarding the coaching situation at MBA and it deals with the coaching process and philosophy that goes beyond Xs and Os.

Regarding your statements about the underclass, you are entitled to your opinion. Let's meet at "the club" and discuss it. Maybe we should just let them eat cake and stop all this financial aid.

By: richgoose on 4/15/11 at 7:54

Pecos2010.........You are correct. The school has asked the McGugin boy to resign based on his being lulled to sleep by the people he was trying to help. Long ago I made a personal rule never to bend a rule for people who do not deserve to be helped. Experience tells me that in many many cases the helper will be the one who is hurt. It is impossible to hurt people who have no integrity or who may have an amoral bent in their value system.

It is sad for the McGugin family. It is even sadder that I was unable to counsel with Dan McGugin before he ventured into the sodomy of recruiting the underclass.

MBA and their headmaster were given no choice but to terminate the services of Dan McGugin.

Can you imagine how much laughter is going on at Ensworth and Brentwood Academy, They are far more skilled in their handling of underclass recruiting.

By: thetrainer5 on 4/20/11 at 5:55

Reliable source indicates that the player quit as soon as season was over, and was never told anything about not starting. And I know how much tuition is at MBA (20k a year), and am surprised that $1500 given one time now makes this family be considered to be underclass... I know we don't know the whole story, but when it all comes out I am going to be very interested to see how opinions change...

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